ACCPN Update by Paul Munro
Australian Community Centre for Pacific Nations
PNGAA and others interested are awaiting decisions by the Harbour Trust and the NSW National Parks (NPWS) about whether the Draft Management Plan for the Middle Head/ASOPA precinct will be revised to better accommodate the functions envisaged in proposals for an interpretive education facility of the kind proposed by PNGAA.
A meeting in public of the Harbour Trust Board on 8 December 2016 gave some encouragement to the hope that close consideration would be given to written critiques by PNGAA and the Headland Preservation Group of the Draft Plan. At that time, it was expected that decisions about the Management Plan to be subject of further community consultation would be available by end February 2017.
It was apparent by mid-April that that timetable had not been realised. The departure of Mike Baird as Premier and a switch of relevant ministers in late January 2017 may account for some of the delay. The NSW Minister for Environment, Local Government and Heritage is now Gabrielle Upton, replacing Mark Speakman who took over her role as Attorney General. Bye- elections affecting the Mosman area may also have contributed to the delay.
It follows that relatively little progress to develop support for the concept advanced around use of the precinct as an educative interpretive facility has been practicable. Manifestly, an ACCPN will eventuate only if the concept of it attracts significant political and institutional support. Thus far, formal representations at federal ministerial level have been met by indications of qualified support but reference of the proposal as a matter appropriate for consideration by the Harbour Trust.
Pending some further clarification from the Harbour Trust of the degree to which it will entertain the proposal advanced by PNGAA, there seem to be only two immediate steps that might be taken. The first is for those members who share an interest in progressing the ACCPN concept to contact local MPs requesting they take an interest in promoting acceptance and understanding of the proposal by their colleagues. For members resident in New South Wales this means contacting the State member as well as the Federal MP. It should be sufficient for such purpose to draw attention to materials circulated, to focus upon the importance of improving relations and understanding between Australia, PNG and Pacific nations, followed by a request that the member enquire of either the relevant State Minister, or the Federal Minister whether they can lend practical support to advancing a resolution in favour of the proposal. The Ministers to contact in that respect are Ms. Upton in the case of NSW, and Ministers Hunt, Ferrovanti-Wells and/or Bishop in the case of the Commonwealth
The second measure that would appear to be worthwhile will be action by the PNGAA to consult with the organisations that gave practical support to the development of the proposal over 2016. Most appropriately it would seem desirable to see what progress might be made about implementing independently of the ACCPN some of the activities envisaged once an ACCPN or similar institution might be given the go-ahead. For instance the PNGAA continues to promote collection of and should attention to documents, photos, artefacts and other materials donated or still held by its membership; the need for a worthwhile information resource and database exists independently of its value as part of an ACCPN.
No doubt there are other activities, inspired by the desirability of implementing the aims and objectives foundational to the ACCPN proposal and the use of the ASOPA heritage values, that could be prioritised, resourced and promoted among organisations supporting the ACCPN objects .